I worked at BART, for five years, and during that time, I spent countless hours in meetings with Barclay–he in the role of elected official and me as the staff person representing BART’s interests in a steering committee made up of elected officials and staff from Contra Costa County cities within the transit district. The steering committee had been convened to consider the possible benefits of encouraging public-private development partnerships using the BART lands.
The committee was chaired by the charismatic Sunne McPeak, a rising star in the California Democratic Party, whose aspirations and talents went beyond those required of her as Chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. Fashionable, funny, and politically deft, Sunne made a dramatic entrance wherever she went, in spite of (or, partially because of) her always being at least 15 minutes late to any meeting. In her gorgeous spike heels and dazzling designer suits, she made the public sector look glamorous—not something it is famous for. More importantly, her mastery of material and articulate parsing of issues and interests made it also look competent.
Barclay was fascinated and a bit irked by her. Irked because, above all else, he hated hierarchies and wasting time. Fascinated because he believed that his own entrepreneurial success was directly linked to having a very good nose for finding talent. In Sunne he saw supreme talent. When he decided to take the Simpson Company public, she was among the first people he asked to become part of his own new Board of Directors, where she served for nine years.